The Raqia - Solid after all

I’ve decided, after about a year of research, that the Raqia probably was solid after all. I believe this predominantly because of two verses:

Psalm 42:7:

Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.

See this excellent article for why I think this.

Secondly, 2 Samuel 22:8:

“Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked, because he was angry.

Whilst this is a poem, and we shouldn’t expect it to reflect science, speech of the supports of the heavens was hardly just poetry in the Ancient Near East. In Egypt, the air god Shu is described as supporting the sky, and in Mesopotamia, there are ‘bonds of heaven’, and Tiamat’s crotch holds up the heavens. I suspect then that David really did think there were foundations of heavens.

That said, I also think that the etymology of Raqia in no way necessitates a solid reading, though there is no reason why an ‘expanse’ ought to be non-solid.


It’s pretty hard to “roll up” an expanse of nothingness…

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Indeed, another verse, Isaiah 34:4


The conclusion of that article is pretty dramatic for people who aren’t used to reading about
other traditions of EL and and of Ea (Yah?):

Your citation of Isaiah 34 is great:

Isa 34:4: "And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens
shall be rolled together as a scroll:
and all their host shall fall down…"

I’ve yet to see Jon Garvey give a response to any of these verses. He did respond to me on 2 Samuel 22:8 once, but he did so in a way which accomplished little. Even when it was little more than air, the heavens still required support!

If it’s solid, then you have birds flying in a thin solid dome (Gen. 1:20).

Prepositions don’t map perfectly as far as semantics go from language to language. Plus, one look at the Hebrew interlinear should show you the text doesn’t say what you say it says:

These look like pretty good translations to me:
“let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” NIV
"let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” NASB
"let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens." ESV

Clearly the concept was there was space below the solid firmament where the birds flew.



You are a little late to the party… we’ve talked this one to death.

Some English translations say birds fly in the firmament. But because this is implied syntax, the other translations that use terms like “near” the firmament, “around”, and even “by” the firmament are equally valid, linguistically - - and much more valid in terms of fitting the context.

While several traditional translations chose to interpret the “firrmament” as an [empty] Expanse… it is most difficult to roll up “emptiness” like a carpet.

Ahhhh… .and I see now @Christy’s very nice list of alternatives!

"These look like pretty good translations to me:
“let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” NIV
"let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” NASB
"let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens." ESV "

I hadn’t even thought of “across” !!! Nice.

Seems like whatever preposition you use, the birds will have to stay near the dome.

Regarding rolling up the skies: YECs recognize poetic language in Scripture, especially in th prophets.


Poetic language still has to make some sort of sense … for it to be figurative, it has to present a comprehensible figure.

The ancients saw a blue sky. They had no way of knowing that invisible air could still make blue. So there had to be something “blue” up there.

There really isn’t an apologia that can get the Genesis scribe off the hook on the firmament issue.

You’re arguing that they had to explain the blue sky, and therefore it was a dome. Why did they have to explain the blueness?


Whoah there… I never said nutin about no dome!

But as for the blue … they thought the blue was an ocean.
And naturally, if there is a giant ocean across the sky, there has to be something keeping it up there.

The Egyptians depicted the sky as a goddess doing yoga over the Earth… feet and hands touching the opposing horizon.

The Babylonians had a theory of the firmament as well.

Why would you think the Genesis writer wouldn’t know about these ideas?

Of course they could know about those ideas. Moses (who I think was the Redactor of Genesis) was trained in all the learning of Egypt. But they didn’t have to listen to the many erroneous bits.

What holds clouds up today?

These waters are not clouds, they are ‘above’ the expanse, not ‘in’ it.

In the Ancient World, the sky being something solid was not just poetic.

That may have been true of other cultures, but not of Israel.

Why do you say that? They are saying something which coheres perfectly with what everyone else is saying, why hold them to a different standard.


And how would Moses know which parts were erroneous? You just told us that there used to be a celestial ocean in orbit around the Earth. I would suggest that is to be included in the same pile as the erroneous bits.

I doubt Moses ever saw the text of Genesis.

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It isn’t the Hebrew word for firmament that is translated open expanse. It is the word pə·nê that follows the word rə·qî·a‘.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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